Normally I would have plenty to say after a loss - mostly knee-jerk and mostly negative - however, I've had a week to digest and a week to reflect and though I still have plenty to say, at least it is not knee-jerk. There are many things I need to see from the Broncos players tomorrow, but I will zero in on the intangibles. These intangibles cannot be quantified by stats, nor game planned by coaches; rather, they are qualities an astute observer can only witness with their own eyes. Players on the field either have "it" or they do not. Last Sunday, the Broncos did not. What is "it"? Here they are, six ways to victory for the Broncos on Sunday(a six-fold path to enlightenment if you will). In case you're wondering what is this enlightenment I speak of, just click the link.
According to Wiki, Desire is:
A sense of longing for a person or object or hoping for an outcome. The same sense is expressed by emotions such as "craving" or "hankering". When a person desires something or someone, their sense of longing is exciting by the enjoyment or the thought of the item or person, and they want to take actions to obtain their goal. The motivational aspect of desire has long been noted by philosophers; Hobbes (1588-1679) asserted that human desire is the fundamental motivation of all human actions.
In football terms, desire is heart. It is the passion for excellence. It is, in fact, the sum of all of the other five intangible attributes that will be listed in this article.
Desire must come from within each individual player, thought others can ignite the spark through leadership. Not just any leader either, but an emotion-driven type of leader. Brian Dawkins is currently the only guy that fits the bill on this Broncos team. Tim Tebow, too, exhibits many of the same qualities, but he is not yet a veteran captain and is nowhere near Brian Dawkins in terms of development and professional respect.
According to Wiki, Commitment is:
Being bound emotionally/intellectually to a course of action or to another person/persons.
Simply put, a players commitment lies in his role or perceived role in the teams success or failure. It all boils down to accountability. If players are held accountable for their success and their failures, then they invariably become more committed to succeeding.
Coaches also play a huge role in instilling the team concept of commitment. They are, after all, in charge of installing a program that either enables or hinders the players chances of succeeding, thereby affecting a players level of commitment to winning. Currently, the players show sparks of true commitment to Josh McDaniels' program, but lack consistency. This may have more to do with youth and inexperience than with players just not committed to the McDaniels' way. Still, it remains a factor for me and something I'll certainly be watching for in the coming weeks.
According to Wiki, Intensity is:
Extreme in degree; excessive; immoderate; vehement; earnest; exceedingly strong; as, intense passion or hate. Very severe; violent; as, intense pain or anguish.
What's not to like about any of those descriptive terms? At least when applied to a NFL defense! This has got to be the most important attribute for a team to have, especially when playing at home. It not only feeds energy to the fans, which in turn motivates the players even more, but it saps the opposing teams will to compete against such a pumped up foe. We witnessed this on Monday when the Kansas City Chiefs defense sustained a high level of intensity all night long, which enabled them to overcome a far superior foe. The Broncos just didn't have much intensity last Sunday and this attribute will be the most important aspect to watch for during tomorrows game.
According to Wiki, Motivation is:
The activation or energizing of goal-oriented behavior.
Without motivation, how can a team exhibit desire, commitment or intensity? These things are all inter-related and all were lacking from the Broncos on Sunday. Then linchpin to achieving all of these things hinges on the players level of motivation to excel. It's more than just a pre-game mental exercise. How a player responds to adversity during the game or a critical mistake also defines an individual players level of motivation as the game goes on. The entire team's motivation can also be limited by excessive failures or doubt in their ability to succeed against the opponent.
Motivation should not be a problem for the Broncos this week, as they have their home opener after a tough road loss. However, that is also why it is absolutely necessary to have this on my list of things I need to see from this team on Sunday.
According to Wiki, Determination is:
The quality of mind which reaches definite conclusions; decision of character; resoluteness.
Determination comes from a combination of desire and motivation. The Broncos lacked mental toughness last week, which would be an instant stumbling block for any team. What I would like to see is a big play following a hard mistake. A unit, offense or defense, rising to the challenge to overcome adversity. I saw glimpses of this last week, but overall I was disappointed by the level of determination. Perhaps fatigue and a vastly different climate was to blame, however, there will be no excuses tomorrow. Any team wrought with determined desire for 60 minutes will achieve victory, I have no doubts about that.
According to Google Definitions, Focus is:
The concentration of attention or energy on something; directing one's attention on a specific task.
Mental focus has been this teams Achilles heel and has so far carried over from last season into Week 1 of 2010. John and Sayre referred to something similar in their want for more discipline. Discipline is part of focus, but what the term discipline does not quite cover the entire problem in this context. Focus does, for focus is part physical discipline and part mental concentration. As a young, albeit talented, football team, the players on the field can ill afford to lack complete focus. Hence the mantra, Do your job!
If this team is going to get anywhere, the young players must start focusing on their specific tasks and worry less about making physical mistakes on the field and more about making costly mental ones. Coaches tend to be less forgiving of the latter - especially McDaniels.
That is the six-fold way to victory for the Denver Broncos tomorrow and indeed it is the Way to the playoffs as well.
Two Noble Truths
What has me both frustrated and hopeful is that this team has loads of talent, but continues to lack maturity. I have also wondered if Josh McDaniels' in your face attitude is hurting his ability to motivate the younger players.
Personally, I think he has every right to hold players accountable, yet he is also used to dealing with veterans on a Super Bowl caliber team, not a bunch of 1st, 2nd, 3rd year players. It seems to me that a seasoned vet is more likely to rise to a verbal lashing from the head coach, than would a young, inexperienced player who may lack the self confidence necessary to rise to the challenge. I am by no means making excuses or accusations, rather I am just sharing an observation.
The good news is, from top to bottom, this team is miles ahead of the one that took the field in 2008 and once this team's maturity and experience level catches up to its raw talent - watch out! In fact, let's take a look at the difference in rosters from just two short years.
|There is a Reason Players get Drafted Where They get Drafted
|2010 Denver Broncos
||2008 Denver Broncos
|Tim Tebow||1st||Patrick Ramsey||1st
|Lance Ball||CFA||Peyton Hillis||7th
|Brandon Lloyd||4th||Eddie Royal||2nd|
|Eddie Royal||2nd||Brandon Stokley||4th|
|Eric Decker||3rd||Chad Jackson||2nd|
|Demaryius Thomas||1st||Glenn Martinez||CFA|
|Matt Willis||CFA||Darrell Jackson||3rd|
|Richard Quinn||2nd||Tony Scheffler||2nd|
|Dan Gronkowski||7th||Chad Mustard||CFA|
|Ryan Harris||3rd||Ryan Harris||3rd|
|Chris Kuper||5th||Ben Hamilton||4th|
|Zane Beadles||2nd||Chris Wiegman||CFA|
|J.D. Walton||3rd||Chris Kuper||5th|
|Stanley Daniels||CFA||Tyler Polumbus||CFA|
|D'Anthony Batiste||CFA||Kory Lichtensteiger||4th|
|Justin Bannan||5th||John Engleberger||2nd|
|Marcus Thomas||4th||Tim Crowder||2nd|
|Ryan McBean||4th||Jarvis Moss||1st|
|Ronald Fields||5th||Nic Clemons||CFA|
|Kevin Vickerson||7th||Kenny Peterson||3rd|
|D.J. Williams||1st||Louis Green||CFA|
|Mario Haggan||7th||Mario Haggan||7th|
|Jason Hunter||CFA||Niko Koutouvides||4th|
|Jarvis Moss||1st||Nate Webster||3rd|
|Wesley Woodyard||CFA||D.J. Williams||1st|
|Joe Mays||6th||Jamie Winborn||2nd|
|Elvis Dumervil*||4th||Wesley Woodyard||CFA|
|Andre Goodman||3rd||Dre' Bly||2nd|
|Perrish Cox||5th||Josh Bell||CFA|
|Nate Jones||7th||Jack Williams||4th|
|Syd'Quan Thompson||7th||Calvin Lowry||4th|
|Cassius Vaughn||CFA||Karl Paymah||3rd|
|Renaldo Hill||7th||Marquand Manuel||6th|
|Darcel McBath||2nd||Josh Barrett||7th|
|David Bruton||4th||Vernon Fox||CFA|
|Britton Colquitt||CFA||Brett Kern||CFA|
|Lonnie Paxton||CFA||Mike Leach||CFA|
Wow. It beguiles me how the Broncos ever fielded a .500 football team in 2007-2008. I'd credit Mike Shanahan for that, except he was also the reason the team had such a void in talent in those years. Mike Shanahan was patently obsessed with his perceived ability to find great players far down and even off the draft board. That arrogance cost the Broncos dearly and the franchise is only now beginning to lift itself back up from the depths of Shanny's copious ego.
It's not so much the difference in draft position, as it is difference in NFL ability. Looking at the list, I see a multitude of players on the right side that no longer play football in the National Football League. Not only did that team have a depth problem(14 College Free Agents), but it had a major personnel problem as well. Compared to the current squad, which still has a depth issue (11 CFAs), but the personnel issue appears to be getting better. A vast majority of the turnover was of non-NFL caliber players, except of course, for the few big names everyone knows about.
It is also evident that there are some so-called fans out there who truly believe that the 2008 Broncos were on the cusp of winning multiple Super Bowls with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Peyton Hillis, etc etc. I'd like those people to read through the above chart several more times before continuing, for you either have an agenda or a fan not of the Denver Broncos, but of Mike Shanahan or Jay Cutler or Brandon Marshall or some other individual. So if the latter is the case, go root for them, the Broncos have moved on. If you fall under the former, then use the chart above as a guide to educate yourself on the importance of talent in the NFL. It is one thing to be critical of the team, as I am with nearly this entire post, and quite another to just sit there and bitch about the good ole days. News flash sparky, the ole days have turned into the bygone era. Time to start living in the now.
It also shouldn't surprise us that the Broncos lost by three touchdowns no less than nine times from 2007-2008. McDaniel's lowered that average ever so slightly last season, but I expect a marked improvement in overall competitiveness this season. Especially if the players adhere to the six-fold path as I laid out above.
The first noble truth is, in fact, talent matters.
There is one thing that everyone must refuse to accept from the Denver Broncos. That is, losing home games. So in comes the second and most important noble truth.
Message to Broncos Players & Coaches:
Your mulligans are over, all checks have been cashed, and no more free rides! Take care of freakin' business!
Two home losses(ZERO to Divisional rivals), that's the house limit in Denver. I think I am being rather generous here, so get the job done already.
I will say this; if this team comes out flat tomorrow and loses tot he Seahawks, stick a fork in them, they'll be done. If they are unable to come out and beat a five win team from a year ago, AT HOME, then they have no business even trying anymore! No more excuses, this game should be a guaranteed lock - JUST WIN THE ****** ******* GAME!